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Published: 2013/02/07
by Bill Clifford

Lyle Brewer
Wicked live


On Wicked Live, Lyle Brewer continues his exploration into the blues and jazz traditions he was raised and educated on. A native New Englander, he attended the prestigious New England Conservatory, studying Jazz performance. While he’s a well known lead guitarist with other bands (Ryan Montbleau Band, Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles), Brewer and his guitar truly shine here in the live setting on these 9 covers and 2 originals.

Merle Travis’s “Cannonball Rag” is given the jazz treatment, yet with due respect it retains its inherent country twang and swing in his playing. “Somerville Shuffle” is 1 of 2 originals, but is hardly out of place amongst the classics represented in this live set. A bluesy, rolling guitar melody drives this rocker, interwoven with layered swirls of organ and a dense percussive backbeat. It’s easily the most rocking song of the set, and any fan of Scofield or Frisell would be encouraged to explore here. “Mary Elizabeth” is a mellower, more traditional jazz song, with a light and feathery, melodic guitar melody.

He delves further into styles and genres as well, including surf guitar, offering a lovely and tender reading of the Beach Boys’ classic “Surfer Girl,” and a lively, toe-tapping rendition of “Mr. Sandman” that upholds it’s 50s vibe thanks to just a touch of twang in his playing. And the crowd at Q Division Studios – where Wicked Live was recorded – is given a proper workout to the old school R&B of Booker T’s “Green Onions,” while Kenny Burrell’s “Chitlins Con Carne” is given a rockabilly swing vibe that feels closer to the original recording than to SRVs soulful blues drenched rendition. Closing it out, Brewer brings us back round to country blues, with a fluid and melodious version of Johnny Cash’s “I Still Miss Someone,” that harkens back to the original recording.

Sometimes a musician needs to delve into the history of music in order to find his own voice as a songwriter and player. Wicked Live is the sound of a young and talented guitarist coming out of his shell as a frontman and a songwriter.

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